San Anton Gardens
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Hotter than the bottom of a boiling vindaloo curry pan and dryer than a sachet of silicia gel, in a camera bag, in a tumble dryer, in a Saharan laundrette – that’s the way the weather is in a typical Maltese summer. That being the case, rolling lawns, ponds, fountains and blooming flowerbeds are not common but they do exist if you know where to look – so try looking at San Anton Gardens!
This patch of green oasis in an otherwise barren sandy-coloured landscape can be found in Attard. It’s very well regarded plot in Malta, largely because it’s so unusual and unexpected.
These gardens have been a hit with generations of locals and tourists alike over several generation and we’re willing to wager they will continue to be for many more years to come.
They form part of the San Anton Palace, the official residence of the President of Malta. They’ve been open to the public for nearly 150 years. Among the cobbled walkways, pleasantly shaded by ancient trees, you will encounter families of ducks and swans swimming in ornamental ponds as well as discovering beautiful sculptures and an aviary.
The large variety of trees and flowers from around the world should transport you back in time to the 17th century when the Grand Masters of the ruling Knights of Malta first adopted San Anton Palace for their summer retreat.
Some of the trees, in fact, are more than three centuries old, so they might well have been standing as saplings when the notorious knights were knocking around these beds. Eagle Pond, which dates back to 1623, is the oldest part of the grounds. You’ll find it at the far end away from the palace.
A large perimeter wall surrounds the gardens and this adds to the feeling of being enclosed and cut off in a private plot of paradise. The shady gardens with cool spray and vapour coming off the fountains also provide a welcome cooling break from the relentless heat.
It’s also worth checking the events programme of the gardens to see if any of them coincide with your visit to Malta. The list includes the annual Malta Horticultural Show and open-air theatre, as well as a variety of dance and musical performances.
The palace has hosted a variety of notable guests over the years with Queen Elizabeth II of the UK among those who have stayed here. So, if this place is good enough for the queen, then we’re sure you’ll find the gardens will serve as a venue for a relaxing afternoon or evening stroll.
Admission to the gardens is free and you can get access from 7am till 6pm between June and September or 7am to 5pm throughout the rest of the year.
Attard is about as close to the middle of the island as you can get. It’s midway between Valletta and Mdina so very easy to reach and find by car. Many buses also travel to or through Attard so check out the route and timetable information on the Arriva Malta website.
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